In a deliberate move to catch gun control activists off guard, an organization representing Colorado sheriffs in a lawsuit over a series of recently passed gun control laws abruptly announced the filing of the suit in federal court today.
“We did that deliberately,” David Kopel, an attorney with the Independence Institute, which is handling the case, said. “We wanted to catch our opponents who support gun control off guard.”
As recently as Wednesday, the Independence Institute was suggesting the filing was still a few weeks off. Appearing at a rally against another bill, Amy Oliver Cooke, wife of Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, said they were planning to file the suit in the next couple of weeks.
The suit, which was filed in federal district court, lists 54 out of the state’s 64 sheriffs as plaintiffs in the case.
Kopel says what is significant to note is that while not all sheriffs are party to the suit, not a single sheriff has come out in opposition to it.
Cooke had harsh words for critics in the media and others who questioned whether a government official should sue another government official.
“Some in the media … asked me if I think it’s a good idea or if it’s appropriate for [a] government official to sue another government official. My response is unequivocally yes. It is our duty and responsibility as sheriffs to protect the people who elected us and whom we serve.”
At a recent event in Fort Collins by the Independence Institute providing updates on the case, Cooke said he was proud that gun control supporters are nervous over the lawsuit.
“When we announced our opposition to these gun control laws, the Greeley Tribune ran a story titled, ’48 Sheriffs going Rogue on Guns,'” Cooke said. “They should be fearing us. What right does the state have dictating how many rounds of ammunition [a woman] can have to defend herself?”
The lawsuit isn’t just limited to law enforcement officials, but lists a variety of organizations including the Colorado Farm Bureau, which has expressed concerns about rural farmers and ranchers having to deal with predators, Women for Concealed Carry, and the Colorado Outfitters Association.
“We have a diverse number of plaintiffs in this case. We are celebrating diversity,” Kopel said. “The difference is we actually believe in genuine diversity.”
Cooke noted that the lawsuit was not a partisan issue, with Republican and Democratic sheriffs both taking part in the lawsuit.
“This is not about urban versus rural as the governor likes to portray it,” Cooke said. “We have rural and urban plaintiffs in this case. It is about the Constitution. It is about the 2nd and 14th amendments. The suit is about our way of life, our freedoms, our rights, our liberties which transcend political affiliation and place of residence.”
Within minutes following the announcement of the filing of the suit, Republican Atty. Gen. John Suthers, who will be defending the state in the lawsuit, finally issued a statement providing guidance to law enforcement on how they are supposed to enforce the new laws.
Under the existing laws, any magazine that holds greater than 15 rounds, or can be modified to hold greater than 15 rounds, is now illegal to purchase in the state. The problem is nearly all magazines are designed with features that make them readily expandable to hold more than 15 rounds. The law’s wording effectively bans all magazines in Colorado.
Suthers said in the guidelines that magazines “must be judged objectively” and that a magazine holding 15 rounds or fewer cannot be defined as “large capacity” just because it can be modified to hold more.
While those currently possessing magazines greater than 15 rounds, the law prevents the transfer of any of these magazines. The wording states the grandfather clause only applies as long as the holder “maintains continuous possession” of it. Cooke and other sheriffs have pointed out that based on this wording, anyone who gives their magazine to a gunsmith or asks for help on a shooting range with a jammed magazine is now violating the law.
Suthers said “an owner should not be considered to have transferred a large capacity magazine or lost continuous possession of it simply by handing it to a gunsmith, hunting partner, or an acquaintance at a shooting range.”
However, the problem is Suther’s statement is just what it says, guidance, and it does not hold the force of law. Any officer can choose to disregard Suther’s recommendations anytime he chooses in favor of the plain text of the law.
The lawsuit also claims the gun control measures violate the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as individual civil rights.
Dylan Harrell, one of the disabled plaintiffs in the case, said his disability, which confines him to a wheelchair often makes it more difficult for him to defend himself or his family. He also noted that as an outdoorsman, when exiting his vehicle he needs help.
“I often request the assistance for the safe handling of my firearms anytime I am transferring from a wheelchair to an ATV or another vehicle,” Harrell explained. “It is now against the law for me to even seek assistance anytime I am transferring my firearms for my wheelchair to another vehicle. I am filing this lawsuit on the half of all Coloradans with disabilities such as my own.”
The suit noted that disabled citizens often find it difficult to change magazines quickly, which could be a serious threat to their life if their weapon is needed for self-defense.
Colorado’s far left government this year is controlled by Democrats in the governor’s office, in the House and the Senate. They rammed through a number of gun restrictions and limits – at the behest of the White House.
During debate over the gun control measures, the vast majority of citizens testifying before the legislature were opposed to any new gun control laws. However, frequently their testimony was dismissed and treated with disdain by Democratic lawmakers who seemed to have already made up their minds about passing the laws.
State Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, scolded a witness opposing one of the gun restrictions.
Amanda Collins, 27, of Reno, Nev., was telling her story of being assaulted and explained that had she been carrying a concealed weapon, the incident might have ended differently.
“I just want to say that, actually statistics are not on your side even if you had a gun,” Hudak scolded. “And, chances are that if you would have had a gun, then he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you.”
Hudak continued, speaking over the committee witness, “The Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence says that every one woman who used a handgun in self-defense, 83 here are killed by them.”
Finally able to resume her testimony, Collins said, “Senator, you weren’t there. I know without a doubt [the outcome would have been different with a gun].
“He already had a weapon,” she told the meeting of the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. “He didn’t need mine.”
A similar attitude was displayed by state Rep. Joe Salazar.
He said that a woman who feels threatened by rape on a college campus doesn’t need to be armed because she can use a call box to get help.
Salazar’s statement came in a debate over a proposal to ban citizens possessing a concealed-carry permit from being armed on university campuses.
“It’s why we have call boxes,” said Salazar, “It’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at.
“And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around, or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop a round at somebody.”
Perhaps the most surprising statement came from U.S. Rep. Diane DeGette, a Denver Democrat who displayed her perspective on gun magazines.
“I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now they’re going to shoot them; so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot, and there won’t be any more available,” she said.
The Denver Post said DeGette didn’t appear to understand that a firearm magazine can be reloaded with more bullets.
State officials admitted they were doing the bidding of the White House. In February, Vice President Joe Biden flew to the state to strong-arm Democratic lawmakers who were feeling pressure from their constituents to vote against the bills.
“He (Biden) said it would send a strong message to the rest of the country that a Western state had passed gun-control bills,” Tony Exhum, a Democratic lawmaker from Colorado Springs, told the Denver Post.
House Majority Leader Mark Ferrandino, an open homosexual who also pursued a “civil unions” agenda this year, admitted the gun-control bills introduced by fellow Democrats had national implications.
“I was shocked that he called. He said he thought the bills could help them on a national level,” Ferrandino said.